Request for proposals: Illustration services for Arts & Culture program

Smart Growth America is seeking a qualified artist, illustrator, or designer to produce a series of illustrations to communicate the mission and goals of SGA’s Arts & Culture program, particularly with respect to one upcoming project. That particular project will fund and provide technical assistance to artist-activist teams to address transportation and land use systems in disadvantaged communities of color highly vulnerable to climate change and cultural displacement. Proposals should be sent to Marian Liou, Director of Arts & Culture, at [email protected]​ by Thursday, November 30, 2023.

This contract will begin immediately, with the series of illustrations scheduled to launch in January 2024.


Smart Growth America will be launching a project to fund and provide technical assistance to teams of artists and culture bearers working with transportation, land use, and climate advocates to generate creative ideas and approaches that upend status quo transportation and land use systems. These ideas and approaches will foster connection and knowledge- and power-building within and among disadvantaged communities most harmed by transportation and land use systems, and that are highly vulnerable to climate change and cultural displacement.

Scope of work

For this project, we intend to collaboratively develop illustrations that will help expand awareness and understanding, as well as SGA’s advocacy base, by a wide range of people outside the smart growth world, with a particular focus on reaching Black, Indigenous, and people of color artists, culture bearers, transportation, land use, and climate advocates, and community-based organizations working across these sectors. As just one example, we are interested in art, illustrations, or designs depicting the holistic healing of communities represented in our signature Dangerous By Design and Divided By Design reports.

This campaign will launch in January 2024, and design work will be underway ASAP.


The anticipated budget range for a series of illustrations is $7,000. Payment will occur in two installments; half upfront, and half at the end of the project. Exclusive rights will be assigned to Smart Growth America, though you retain rights for any personal or professional use.

Desired qualifications

SGA is seeking a diverse pool of submissions. Artists, illustrators, and designers who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants will be selected based on the following desired criteria:

  • Demonstrated skill and experience with illustration, design, or visual art.
  • Collaboratively producing and laying out strong visuals; and
  • Creating from scratch graphics or visuals.
  • Lived experience with respect to, subject matter understanding of, and commitment to racial equity, climate justice, land use, and transportation.
  • A powerful and compelling visual style, with examples of powerful visual storytelling and clearly organizing complex information in ways that are clear and direct.
  • Ability to work on a tight turnaround.

Proposal submission

Interested applicants should submit in an email to Marian Liou, Director of Arts & Culture, at [email protected] by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thurday, November 30, 2023, with the following information:

  • A brief letter of interest describing your experience, approach, and interest in the project;
  • Links to your website or socials; and
  • A draft budget for the project.

About Smart Growth America

Smart Growth America (SGA) is a national non-profit organization that is dedicated to advancing equitable, sustainable land use, development, and transportation. The organization empowers communities through technical assistance, advocacy, and thought leadership to create livable places, healthy people, and shared prosperity. We work with elected officials at all levels, real estate developers, chambers of commerce, transportation, and urban planning professionals, and residents to improve everyday life for people across the country through better development.

The SGA Arts and Culture program advances racial equity and climate justice within Smart Growth through cross-sector cultural organizing and power-building within communities of color most harmed by transportation and land use systems and disproportionately impacted by climate change and cultural displacement.